GDPR means we can market more, not less


Or, how I stopped worrying and learned to love the opt-ins


Panic over, GDPR is here. 2018 was a heck of a year, but wasn’t it fun?

In fact, its been here a while now as I write this, a little over a year. There was widespread fear that no-one would be able to market to their target audience any longer. Some organisations even took the pre-emptive step of going pure opt-in for postal marketing ahead of the start date for GDPR, to give the public the confidence that they were behaving ethically and implementing the guidance willingly for the general good. This was a brave and confident step that paid off for some.

Others waited to see what further guidance came out from the ICO, and reviewed their processes. They made sure that where they were asking for consent it was done properly according to the draft guidance and recorded accurately.

All the while, everyone ran around creating data maps, updating privacy policies, training users & working out whether they needed a DPO and all the other preparation for May 2018

The end result of this is that organisations throughout Europe focused on getting consent, and getting it right. They’re doing this by asking data subjects (A.K.A “People”) the questions about consent at every single interaction. Every paper form. Every web form. Every phone conversation. Every face to face meeting. We’ve all got good at it, and it no longer feels forced because its what people are expecting of us.

The result?

Where before, these questions were asked if we remembered, because “We’ll just mail based on interactions with us, and stop if people complain” (i.e. opt- out of “Legitimate Interest” marketing, as allowed for postal campaigns), now they’re asked the question every time. People that we’d never have expected to tick a box, or say yes to marketing are having the opportunity. and guess what? A lot of them are actually saying “Yes, I’d really like to receive information about x,y,z from you by email or post”.


The effects are starting to show

Some organisations have found that GDPR has shrunk their marketing lists, but this isn’t necessarily the case, and in some instances, its actually led to a growth in the number of people actively asking to be marketed to. What this means is that when running the selection criteria for a campaign, more results are coming out. What’s more, because we’re all recording these additional opt-ins, we can be confident that we are not only allowed to market, these recipients have positively asked us to market to them.

It gets even better when we look at the cost of campaigns. Because they’re targeted on consent, they’re going out to people who elected to receive them and are more likely to respond, so response rates are also up.


All in all, everyone is a winner. Individuals have more rights and are more aware of those rights. Organisations are better prepared to protect and implement the rights of individuals who entrust their data to them, and marketers have a population of individuals who have actively said “Yes please, I’d love to hear from you!”

Vive la GDPR!